Saturday, July 8, 2017

Let's Take a Moment

Some lovely books I picked up from the library.
This seems like a good time to explain why I'm writing this blog and what its purpose is.

I've always found it challenging to start blogs because I didn't have an audience. Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, says he always wrote books to his sister. He said you should always have an audience in mind. I think he's right. In the past, when I've tried to start book blogs, it always just seemed like I was screaming into a giant vacuum. A vacuum cleaner. That was turned on. There were so many other blogs who were doing what I wanted to do much better than I would. So, I would start a blog, post a couple of entries, then go dark.

Then, this year, I wrote the summer reading list for my small school in Colorado. I started off with a list styled after the ones I loved in middle and high schools. The ones I received were at least two pages--often more. They were filled with books chosen by my English teachers, history teachers, science teachers, the librarians. Book titles and authors marched in two neat rows down the page. They filed past me in beautiful, mesmerizing lines. I adored the choices I was able to make. Nothing was mandatory.

In ninth grade, I read A Clockwork Orange and The Handmaid's Tale because they were recommended for twelfth-grade students and I wanted to impress my freshman English teacher. (Which totally did not work. She hated me from the get-go.) I'm not endorsing these books. I was far too young to fully understand either of them. My real point is that the ability to have so much choice really opened me up to new experiences and allowed me to challenge myself.

I wanted to give that power of challenge and choice to my students. So, I scrapped my summer reading list entirely. I decided that what the students really needed was to operate without boundaries imposed by their school. They can challenge themselves or they can not. What is important is that I make reading less of a chore. I make it a choice.

So, you ask, who's my audience? The answer is simple: students. Not just mine, but any student. I intend to use this blog, as well as, my Instagram (@braud_down) as an easy and convenient way for students to learn about books. It's not the end of a list, but instead is the starting point for kids who are unsure where to begin. The bookshelves of the world are vast. My hope is to narrow the starting point down somewhat. No one has to read any of the books on my "list," but if they're not sure where to start, this is as good a place as any.

© 2017, Copyright Miriam Braud.  

While I try to post content warnings if I, personally, identify anything that I think is not appropriate for my students who range in age from 11-14, I recommend that all content is perused by parents to ensure that the individual and unique values of each family is upheld.

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